Once you’ve passed one year being vegan, there’s no going back. From sustainability statistics that are ingrained in your mind, to a vault of newfound recipes and knowing exactly what products to avoid in the supermarket, you learn lots your first year.
Everything has Milk Powder
Even if something packaged seems that it may be vegan, double check! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost eaten a product and then realized it had milk powder or whey in it. These little slip-ups are a part of the process so don’t let them sidetrack you. One mistake doesn’t mean you’re not vegan anymore, keep with it!
The Social Aspect is the Hardest Part
Initially I thought that actually cooking and finding things to eat would be the hardest part of going vegan. It turns out, learning how to navigate going out to eat with friends or dinner parties riddled with animal products proves the most tricky.
What’s helped me most in these situations is looking at menus beforehand to scope out the plant-based options, asking your waiter what veggie options are available, and always offering to bring your own vegan dish to share at events.
Stomach Issues Await
Chances are you’re eating a lot more fiber once you go vegan. This is going to cause some gastrointestinal distress at first, but don’t worry. Bloating, a little gas, and either desolate or frequent bathroom action is a part of the process.
My best advice for this process is to introduce super fibrous foods slowly and drink lots of water. Eventually, your body will learn it needs to produce more and different types of digestive enzymes for this new influx of fiber.
An Odd Sense of Relief
Once you start realizing what really lies behind that cup of yogurt or chicken sandwich, food never looks the same. Even if you think you could never go vegetarian or vegan, you still harbor a small amount of guilt each time you consume an animal product.
When I went vegan I felt this overwhelming sense of relief for a shame I didn’t realize I carried. This sensation is so freeing, and really helped keep me on track with being vegan.
You Can Make Anything Tasty with Nutritional Yeast
Everything is better with ‘nooch. Avocado toast, veggies, vegan cheeses…you name it and nutritional yeast makes it better. It also is packed with vitamins and minerals and even B12.
A Worthy Cause
There’s something that feels so good about knowing each meal you eat is in the best interest of the earth, animals, and your health. You can make a difference three times a day just through living your life eating plants. It’s so empowering and drives you to make a change in as many aspects of your life as you can.
What you eat is more political than you most likely realize. Like any change in lifestyle or disposition, when you go vegan your flakey friends and your true friends will sort themselves out. Those who should be in your life will support you and have an open mind. Flakes will ridicule and belittle you for your choices.
Vegan Doesn’t Equal Healthy
Now you can get just about any junk food in a vegan version: ice cream, cakes, cookies, and burgers all now have plant-based counterparts. Plus, there are lots of junk foods like Oreos and Sour Patch Kids that are accidentally vegan.
This is great for transitioning vegans and the occasional treat but these products are still highly processed and not the healthiest option out there.
It’s A Whole Lot Easier Than You Think
Being vegan is much simpler than we make it out to be! Simple swaps, substitutions, and exemptions can transform an omnivorous meal to a vegan one. There’s always a way to make something cruelty-free wherever you go and once you find your purpose for being plant-based, going back isn’t even an option.
Find Your Why
Last, but definitely not least, the most important part of being and staying vegan is finding your why. There are tons of resources, documentaries, and activists that can help you in this search. Veganism benefits your health, the environment, and spares the lives and suffering of animals internationally. Find what cause resonates most with you and make the switch today.
Cover image via Veg News
Also published on Medium.